Things That Matter

Joe Biden Says That Undocumented Immigrants ‘Have To Learn How To Speak English’ To Become Citizens

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is coming under fire once again after he casually suggested that a requirement for U.S. citizenship should be fluency in the English language. The United States does not have an official language, prompting critics to question Biden as to why English fluency should ever be considered a requirement. Biden had the floor when he was addressing supporters at a campaign stop in Iowa when he touched on his immigration plan. Biden’s primary talking point to address immigration issues is to emphasize a “pathway to citizenship.” President Trump’s 2020 Campaign Deputy Director of Communications, Zach Parkinson, shared a video of Biden’s campaign stop in Iowa, where Biden’s “pathway to citizenship” details the language requirement not listed anywhere else in Biden’s campaign.

While Biden’s formal immigration campaign doesn’t include a language requirement, this isn’t the first time he’s let a remark like that slip. 

During a campaign speech in Iowa, Joe Biden said he would enact the policy change “within a matter of months of being elected President.”

CREDIT: @AZACHPARKINSON / TWITTER

When Biden talks about the “pathway to citizenship” he envisions, he remarks that “like every other person who’s come here, they have to pass, they have to learn how to speak English, they have to demonstrate they pay their taxes…But it’s a pathway.” Passing the citizenship test is a feat in of itself because the verbal portion of the test is administered in English. If Biden is talking about how undocumented immigrants “have to pass” that test, it’s indisputable. If he’s, in fact, saying that undocumented immigrants “have to pass” culturally speaking, he is flat out wrong.

The United States does not have an official language. There are plenty of citizens born or naturalized into America who live in communities that don’t necessitate English fluency to thrive. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go visit Hialeah or Little Havana in Miami and get yourself lost because even the street signs are in Spanish. 

In November, Biden cited that undocumented immigrants should “learn the language” as a requirement to becoming a U.S. citizen.

CREDIT: @AZACHPARKINSON / TWITTER

“The deal is, that, if you want to be an American citizen, you gotta come out of the shadows,” Biden told a crowd before his formal immigration plan was laid out. He goes on to call his version of a “pathway to citizenship,” “earned citizenship.” He also insidiously chooses to characterize undocumented immigrants by telling his supporters, “By the way, they didn’t come across the Rio Grande. They came on a visa and they overstayed their visa… You get in the process of doing what everyone else has had to do who has come. Learn the language, etc, you go through the same process.”

Biden’s official “roadmap to citizenship” only includes three requirements, none of which is English fluency.

SCREENSHOT. DIGITAL IMAGE. JOEBIDEN.COM. 7 JANUARY 2019.

There are 12 million people living and working in the United States without documentation. On his campaign page, Biden calls them, “our mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. They are our neighbors, co-workers, and members of our congregations and Little League teams. They contribute in countless ways to our communities, workforce, and economy.” Biden’s 2020 online message is clear: he “will aggressively advocate for legislation that creates a clear roadmap to legal status and citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who register, are up-to-date on their taxes, and have passed a background check.” 

When Biden speaks at campaign events, however, it seems less clear. These aren’t brothers and mothers who work to become the fabric of society. They are immigrants who take advantage of the visa system and overstay their welcome. They are choosing to stay “in the shadows” when they really need to do what “everyone else” has allegedly had to do and “learn how to speak English” and “earn” their citizenship. 

Children of these same immigrants are speaking out against Biden.

CREDIT: @JUANSAAA / TWITTER

My parents have worked over the past 19 years, paid their taxes, and given back to their community. They’re in their late 50’s and are integral to the fabric of Florida. You’re going to deny them citizenship over a language requirement should they come out of the shadows?” asked Twitter DACA advocate Juan Escalante. 

The Biden campaign has responded to Politico journalist Alex Thompson to say that “the verbal portion of the naturalization exam is administered in English (except for in very select cases) and our plan offers English language education support.”

READ: AOC Said In Any Other Country She And Joe Biden Would Not Even Be In The Same Party

Court Orders ICE To Release Children In Their Custody As COVID-19 Tears Through Detention Centers

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Court Orders ICE To Release Children In Their Custody As COVID-19 Tears Through Detention Centers

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

COVID-19 is spiking across the U.S. with 32 states watching as new cases of the virus continue to climb day after day. California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida are among states that have set daily new infection records. With this backdrop, a federal judge has ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must release children, with their parents, by July 17.

A judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release children in detention by a certain date.

U.S. Judge Dolly Gee ordered ICE to act quickly in response to the rampant COVID-19 spread in detention centers to protect the health of migrants. Judge Gee is giving ICE until July 17 to comply and release all children that have been in the agency’s custody.

U.S. Judge Gee ruled that the threat of the pandemic is great where the children are being held.

“Given the severity of the outbreak in the counties in which FRCs are located and the Independent Monitor and Dr. Wise’s observations of non-compliance or spotty compliance with masking and social distancing rules, renewed and more vigorous efforts must be undertaken to transfer (children) residing at the FRCs to non-congregate settings,” Judge Gee wrote in her order.

Concerned politicians and public figures are celebrating the judge’s order.

The order is aimed specifically at the Family Residential Centers (FRCs) and Office of Refugee Resettlement camps across the country. The virus has been running rampant in detention centers and prisons and, according to the judge, unsurprisingly the virus has made it to the FRCs.

She continued: “The FRCs are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures.”

National leaders are calling on ICE to follow the ruling by a federal judge.

The judge’s order is aimed at the three FRCs in the U.S. Two are in Texas and one is in Pennsylvania. Unaccompanied minors in various shelters are also included in the order.

“Although progress has been made, the Court is not surprised that [COVID-19] has arrived at both the [Family Residential Centers] and [Office of Refugee Resettlement] facilities, as health professionals have warned all along,” Judge Gee wrote.

This story is developing and we will update as new information arises.

READ: After COVID-19 Shut Down Flights, A Man Sailed Across The Atlantic Ocean All So That He Could See His Dad

Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Eliminating DACA

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Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Eliminating DACA

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

For three years, people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status faced an uncertain future. The Trump administration was involved in legal battles after abruptly eliminating the program. For the third time this week, the Supreme Court has handed down a major loss for the Trump administration as they protected DACA from Trump’s attack.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration cannot end DACA.

The 5-4 decision is the third major legal loss for the Trump administration this week. SCOTUS ruled earlier this week that LGBTQ+ cannot be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The court also refused to take up a case challenging California’s sanctuary state law letting the law stand.

The decision to temporarily protect DACA was a split decision with all of the conservative justices (Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel A. Alito Jr.) voting in favor of the Trump administration. Justice John Robert joined the liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan saving the program from the Trump administration, for now.

In the ruling, written by Justice John Roberts, the court cites that the acting secretary of state violated the Administrative Procedures Act when ending the program. Basically, the announcement was lacking substance and did not address key parts of the policy. This made the announcement void of an argument supporting the dismantling of the program.

The ruling is only temporary relief for the hundreds of thousands of young people on DACA.

While the program has been spared, it is not completely saved. The decision from the Supreme Court today focuses on the way DACA was eliminated, not the actual elimination. This means that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now has time to reevaluate its case against DACA to try again.

“The Court still does not resolve the question of DACA’s rescission,” Alito wrote in his dissent. “Instead, it tells the Department of Homeland Security to go back and try again.”

The conservative justices, while dissenting, did release statements that agreed with parts of the decision to block the Trump administration from eliminating DACA. The Trump administration first announced that they were ending DACA in 2017 with a press conference on the border led by Jeff Sessions.

Justice Sotomayor made her own headlines after calling the case a racist attack.

“I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier,” Justice Sotomayor wrote in her concurrence of the decision.

Organizers and activists are giving credit to the DACA community for this victory.

The DACA community has led the charge to protect their status in the U.S. The movement has largely been done thanks to the work of DACA recipients fighting for their right to be here. For many, it is the only country they know after arriving to the U.S. without proper documentation when they were young children.

The president has tweeted his clear displeasure on the Supreme Court that he tried to stack in his favor by appointing two justices.

Both justice Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were Trump’s appointees. After three losses from the Supreme Court, President Trump followed his usual playbook and accused the Supreme Court of not liking him.

Now, it is time for Congress to act.

With DACA recipients temporarily spared sudden deportation, Congress must act and pass legislation protecting Dreamers from being deported. The Dream Act is one piece of legislation that offers DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, something most Americans agree with.

READ: ICE Is Threatening To Reopen Deportation Proceedings Against All DACA Recipients Regardless Of DACA Status